“All these people will live as long as you remember ’em” Ninny Threadgoode of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Although this Whistle Stop Cafe is from 1920’s rural Alabama, I think the threads of families and communities is probably universal to rural American culture at the young times of our David and Emily.
This post is meant to be a one-stop capture of the thread links in order as well as all of the audio files. My hope is that if David and Emily’s baby girl (hello there if this is you reading!) is interested in my posts, sending her one link will be easier to follow than eight. Also, I am whistling today and eating a tomato-based veg dinner. Building up before the Thursday mashed potato throw-down of the year! THIS this this is how my brainiac works.
Anywho, again, THANK YOU ALL and I am sending you the very best wishes for a safe, healthy, and joyful start of the winter(or southern hemisphere-ites, summer) holiday seasons!
“Oh, we’re going to talk about ME, are we? Goody” (goodie, goodey?). A quote from Ms. Tracy Samantha Lord in The Philadelphia Story. Ms. Lord is portrayed by Katharine Hepburn and Grace Kelly in film versions based on the 1939 Broadway play written by Phillip Barry. The play starred, and was financed by, Katharine Hepburn. Phillip Barry specifically wrote the character Tracy Samantha Lord, based on his friend, Philadelphia socialite Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, to be played by Katharine Hepburn. I also happen to love this movie (Hepburn’s film directed by George Cukor is the best). And I adore CK Dexter Haven, along with Mr. Connor, Ms. Imbrie and of course sassy little Dinah Lord!
My point being that I wanted to title this “ME” for “Meditations Epilogue” and instead titled it as is and added a favorite (or favourite) line from The Philadelphia Story which is from the same love era as our David LS and Emily BA.
Confession – I tried to write a sonnet and failed.
On June 30, 1942, in expectation of another wan moon that night, Emily B Anderson and David Lee Stewart were married in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. David, a dashing 40-year-old southern gentleman, and Emily, a southern beauty at 27. David probably wore his very best seersucker suit, white short-sleeved shirt, summer fedora, and tie. Emily probably wore a pale colored smartly satin-belted strapless dress, sassy little lace fascinator, with a modesty shrug as required by those who cared about that sort of thing. They were married in the church by a Baptist minister. Emily's paternal grandparents were witnesses, along with Ms. Pearl Fisher. The wan moon most likely saw the new Mr. and Mrs. Stewart dancing away to Moonlight Cocktail by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. Couple o' jiggers of moonlight and add a star ...
In 1942, the United States was involved in World War II and had recently banned the sales of new cars in order to conserve steel for the war efforts. Coffee and gasoline were also rationed.
About 55% of U.S. households had indoor plumbing (defined as a flushing toilet, a sink with faucet, and a bathtub or shower).
The U.S. President was Franklin D. Roosevelt.
He ordered the seizure of all Japanese-American's properties and opened Japanese-American internment camps.
He ordered the military to define and guard "exclusionary zones" on the West Coast, where any Asian looking person was not allowed, and on the East Coast, where German and Italian Americans were not allowed.
The Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, and used a submarine to bomb Ft. Stevens, Oregon.
Bambi and Casablanca were released that year, and Bob Hope was very popular. Bing Crosby starred in a little film titled Holiday Inn, and released a recording of the hit song of the year from that film, White Christmas.
David Lee Stewart registered for the military by completing a United States World War II Draft Card.
Not long after their wedding, David and Emily Stewart moved to Norfolk, Virginia. There is a naval yard in Norfolk, so perhaps David was assigned somewhere near or around there. His brother, Paul, was a mechanic, making it likely that David was called to the war effort to fulfill his draft obligation as a mechanic.
The Stewarts lived in the Washington, DC/Norfolk, VA area for six to seven years. During this time, Emily worked for a large department store. On July 2, 1945, two months before President Truman declared the end of World War II, Emily gave birth to a squeezy squishy bundle of love baby girl, Nellie. It seems as though they must have had a very loving, high regard for and tight relationship with David’s former childhood neighbors, the Hunters. Both the grandmother and granddaughter were Nellie Hunter. Nellie Hunter, the granddaughter, was about 6 years younger than David, and lived nearby with her grandparents throughout David’s childhood. I love the idea of loving memories being bequeathed to the future with namesakes. This is so very poetically sweet.
A few years after the war ended, the Stewart family returned to Edgecombe County where Emily worked in a local sewing plant. With cotton as a staple crop in the area, I imagine our Emily was busy with a variety of cottony softness items. David’s story is proving to be more elusive.
In 1986 there is a deed recording of transfer of property from the estate of Emily’s mother, Fannie Bond Anderson, to Emily and David.
Sometime in 1990, 88 year-old David became ill, relying on Emily for his care-giving.
On October 20, 1995 there is a deed recording of David and Emily transferring the Anderson property back to Emily’s remaining siblings.
Two days shy of seven months later,
on May 18, 1996,
David Lee Stewart,
beloved husband to Emily Bond Anderson for 54 years,
while waiting for a waxing crescent moon in Gemini (which manifests itself by the need for change),
crossed the Tethys sea back to the land of dreams
as his soul left his body and he died.
After nine more Valentine's Days
(or 8 years, 10 months, and 20 days later),
on April 7, 2005,
back to the Aries wan moon (which manifests itself by uncertainty and quick problem solving),
Emily Bond Anderson Stewart
also crossed the Tethys sea back to the land of dreams
as her soul left her body
and at 90 years-old,
she joined her David in death.
As described in her obituary, "Emily truly exemplified the meaning of steadfast, unfaltering love and care," and I believe it. The second child in a family of ten children, a life partner, a mother, retail professional, seamstress, caregiver to her mother, caregiver to her husband - all steadfast and full of love.
David and Emily’s little Nellie Nell grew up, married, had children and grandchildren. I am carefully packing up the little book as I found it with the sonnets inside, and sending it to Nell with a note and regards. I am grateful that it came to visit me. I am grateful for the moments of magics and imaginations. I am grateful to hold space for the witnessing of big feelings, deep love, creativity, and moving human souls.
Thank you for witnessing with me.
Go, lamp of the night - go to the West,
And take your joy, and your pain:
But the doubt and the hope that stir in my breast
Will linger, to struggle again.
(MEDITATIONS Series to E. p.5, David Lee Stewart, 1936 1:00 am In the Country)
If you are looking for how we all ended up here with notable reader Peter, you may find parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 helpful – or not. You do you, boo.
Series to E. 5
I am myself a little one
Bewildered in this mystic land,
Feeling so helpless and alone
Because I do not understand.
Hold me, dear powers of Love and Good,
In the quiet arms of oblivion’s rest,
As a gentle loving mother would
Hold the infant on her breast!
Look! How the curtains of the night
By the pink fingers of the day are drawn!
The pensive moon her paling light
Merges with the fringe of dawn.
Sleep on, little One, till the grey is gone!
Dream, dream away the memory
That you have ever, ever known
A heart so weak as mine can be!
Go, lamp of the night – go to the West,
And take your joy, and your pain:
But the doubt and the hope that stir in my breast
Will linger, to struggle again.
Our deeply sensitive David is feeling insecure, in love, worried, protective, and all of the things an expressive handsome man of 34 feels for an engaging 22-year-old beauty. I think he probably drank leftover after dinner champagne and coffee while fashionably smoking cigarettes throughout the night of sonnet writing. No Oscar Wilde-ism here though – rumored to have only consumed champagne, coffee and cigarettes in the last days of his life. Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends! No Fall Out Boy in 1936, of course. Our Em and Davey had opportunity for sweet luscious slow dances to Billie Holiday’s Summertime or Fred Astaire’s The Way You Look Tonight (Ginger Rogers is also the goat) or Pennies from Heaven (Bing is meltingly heavenly) or or or…
David clearly pines for, fervently loves, and adores Emily. But, what about our dear Emily B? As mentioned previously, the book appears to have hardly been opened, and the 5 page sonnet possibly never opened. I did not procure the book in North Carolina or North Carolina adjacent. What happened to our gallant hero and sonnet inspiring heroine?
This is the end of the DL to EB sonnet, but not the end of the tale just yet…
*Peter Reference: possibly my (paraphrased) favorite line from Hook which is a must for all of you Peter Pan fans. Earworm day for me as I will now sing to the Rubberband Man song, “you’re bound to lose control when the Peter Pan fans start to jam!” tra la la Brains are a blessing and an occasional flat-tuned curse *sings anyway* Peter is the name I bestow upon any reader from England when I say, “hello,” to my stats monitoring page. “Hello, Peter!”
Peter Pan was originally produced on stage in London on December 27, 1904. David was 2 years and 10 months old. A very merry toddler Christmas! Except that David was in North Carolina at the time, Pan-less (and pants-less if potty-training), I assume.
When David was 9 years old, Peter Pan and Wendy was published in illustrated book form for children. Maybe he received a copy of the earlier version from 1906 (meant for adults), Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, as a gift and it helped spark his creative imagination. Maybe he had his own bookshelf in the family lounge area with Peter Pan, The Red Fairy Book, The Wizard of Oz series, Alice in Wonderland, Old Mother West Wind, Just So Stories, The Dutch Twins, The Secret Garden, The Ransom of Red Chief, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, The Call of the Wild, The Wind in the Willows, and Five Children and It! Confession: I am a librarian by study and trade. To be more specific, a children’s librarian with a life-long obsession for popular and classic children’s books. 398’s and 811’s rule! And now you know.
Welcome to this tiny moss piglet’s eyelash’s undetectable speck of dust quantum universe’s teensiest inhabitant’s space on the Internets! If you might find parts 1 (with backstory links), 2, and 3 of interest, please clickity clack on back and take a peek. Or rebound to do a your version of a dive-in here:
Series to E. 4
Oh, weak and selfish I have been!
I who pronounced my conscience clear
But heaped my wrath on other men
Who held no girl’s affection dear!
But no! – no man can say of me
I ever played the cruel part
Of him who voluntarily
Would break a trustful maiden’s heart.
Yet I am guilty! – O strange, strange sin
Which being kind is cruel instead!
And I am the worst heartless of men
Following my heart where it led!
Relentless doubt obscures my eyes
And opens my heart with icy pain, -
Till the sweet waters of hope arise
Warming and healing the wounds again.
O cruel doubt! O wavering hope! –
Tossing my reason to and fro-
What can I do but blindly grope
And follow my heart where it would go?
O strange, strange life! – Dear Powers above,
Beyond the moon and the pale starlight,
Fold, Fold me in creation’s love,
And the soft curtain of the night!
End page 4
to be continued…
Oh sweet David Lee! You are one smitten kitten for sure. Or passionate pup? Either way, I am certain you were the bees knees and the goat at wooing beautiful Emily B. in the gorgeous rural countryside of Edgecombe County, North Carolina.
Prior to the 19th century, this area of North Carolina was home to the Tuscarora Native American tribe who began departing once English settlers appropriated lands for their private use. There are local records of: a John Stewart (Stuart/Steward) in 1674 bequeathing a frying pan and other items upon his death, a Richard Bond in 1728 bequeathing assets to Sarah Bond, and in 1752 a Joseph Anderson bequeathing 15£ to a number of people upon his death.
73 years prior to David penning love sonnets, Union General Edward E. Potter entered Edgecombe County, destroying supply chains for the Confederate militia (Potter’s Raid). Many local enslaved people left the area during the Civil War to fight with the Union Armies in all-black regiments. Two years after Potter’s Raid, in 1865, the first all black incorporated town of Princeville was established by former enslaved people in Edgecombe County. In 1936, at the time of David’s love sonnets, Edgecombe County was about 50% white and 50% black, with crops of cotton, tobacco, wheat, peanuts, and corn along with cattle and chickens with a booming population (up 26% from the 1930 census). One year after David’s sonnets, in 1937, the first new-deal electrical cooperative began generating in the area. Today’s Edgecombe County is about 60% African American and remains primarily rural.
We have one page remaining, y’all. Let’s just take a moment to savor that July 4th full moon booming economy optimistic deeply felt passionate pain of love from August 12, 1936. I bet they carefully carved their initials into some tree with a heart around it.
Hello. How are you? Do you wish that your name was Felix Mittermeier or that you could have drinks with someone named Felix Mittermeier? Just me then? Alrighty… makes sense. But if Felix lives in a house with the number ’27’ in it, then we are all in (unless there is a leather sofa of dubious color or colour, like blue).